Saturday, February 03, 2018

Are immigrants superior to Americans?

David Brooks in a NYT's piece claims that immigrants are superior to Americans--they "outhustle" us. Is this true?

The General Social Survey (GSS) asks non-retired participants about their work status. Let's use full-time employment status as our measure of "hustlers." According to the data, 61.3% of white and 53.4% of black Americans work full-time. For immigrants of all races, it's 56.3%.

Where exactly is the mind-blowing hustle Brooks is referring to? I think Brooks is doing what liberals often do: take a black reality that's troubling and then pretend it's whites who have the problem. For example, private gun ownership is portrayed as scary, and images of white rednecks are drummed up, but progressives are actually afraid of blacks having firearms.

People like Brooks have an instinctive dislike of ordinary whites because this group is seen as actually being capable of organized nastiness, while brown people are not. He is wrong about this. I'm no historian, but I do seem to remember something about whites not doing very well in Haiti around 1791.  

1 comment:

  1. "Immigrant hustle"? In some ways yes, in some ways no.

    On the one hand, you do find that immigrants start businesses at higher rates, become millionaires and billionaires at higher rates, that migrants take less sick leave when first arriving in a Western country (converges on the norm), that second generation migrants achieve higher qualifications relative to their attainment and intelligence. All that favours the idea that they are "hustlers".

    On the other, if you look at the US GDP per capita long term trend, it doesn't particularly grow at a higher rate than Britain's, up until the Second World War. The decisive difference is just lost growth due to WWII.

    So these huge transfers of people, gave, if anything, very marginal improvements on per capita growth rates.

    So probably migrants are more hustling, but at the same time, this does not give rise to national level prosperity. Prosperity probably more to do with national level intelligence and quality institutions (though with the caveat that small increases in low IQ immigrants probably don't harm an economy that much, since they simply gravitate to low skill positions with no effect on quality of institutions or technological production). A nation of unambitious people who were smart and reasonably well governed will probably end up being high GDP per capita, while Jimmy Hustle gets nowhere if he's dumb and corrupt. Somewhat in contrast to American rhetoric that the hustle and bustle is what matters, and "We're a rich country because we're mainly White European people with a British political tradition who avoided any major wars" is not exactly a feel good story, but there we go.

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